To Mock A Harper Lee

Mar 3, 2017
Originally published on May 19, 2017 8:20 am

In this game, we describe hypothetical sequels to the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird with much better names. Each title plays off the original EXCEPT we've replaced the word "kill" with a rhyming verb and the word "mockingbird" with a different, three-syllable animal. For example, if we said, "Scout excites a spotted, laughing, dog-like scavenger, by taking it on a roller coaster," the title of that sequel would be "To THRILL a HYENA."

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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Our next two contestants will play a game where we've ruined a beloved American novel. Let's meet them. First up, Caroline Barnard on buzzer number one.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: You went to Harvard Law and are a recovering lawyer. Welcome.

CAROLINE BARNARD: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Caroline, you live in an apartment that won't have gas for eight months.

BARNARD: We got an email in December that said there was a hazardous gas leak. And I thought, oh, well, that's a problem. And then the rumors started to fly about how long the building would be without gas for, and it is eight months.

EISENBERG: How are you doing without gas?

BARNARD: So it's just affecting cooking. The rest of the systems, like the heaters and stuff, work. So I did some research online. I found out what kind of hotplates they use in food trucks. And this being New York City, my kitchen is basically significantly smaller than a food truck. So I figured if they can do it, I can do it too.

EISENBERG: And it's going fine?

BARNARD: It's going - I mean, there's a lot of ordering in. But, you know...

EISENBERG: Sure.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Your opponent is Andrew Shuttleworth on buzzer number two.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: You work for a web-design agency based in England. Welcome.

ANDREW SHUTTLEWORTH: That's right. Thank you.

EISENBERG: Now, Andrew, you're really good at one of my favorite hobbies, which is identifying fonts really well. Which one do you think hasn't yet seen its day?

SHUTTLEWORTH: You know, I'm a big fan of the one you guys use for the ASK ME ANOTHER logo, the sentinel.

EISENBERG: Sure.

SHUTTLEWORTH: I think it's beautiful. I think it's great so...

EISENBERG: Wow.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Interesting tactic.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Remember, Caroline and Andrew, the first of you who wins two of our games will move on to our final round at the end of the show. Let's go to your first game called To Mock A Harper Lee.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Jonathan and I will describe hypothetical sequels to "To Kill A Mockingbird." The name of each book plays off the original title, "To Kill A Mockingbird," except two words have been changed.

JONATHAN COULTON: So first, we have replaced the word kill with a different, less violent word that rhymes with kill. And second, we've replaced the word mockingbird with a different three-syllable animal. Why? It's a great question. Puzzle guru Art Chung, why don't you give us an example?

ART CHUNG: If we said Scout excites a spotted, laughing, dog-like scavenger by taking it on a rollercoaster, you'd answer to thrill a hyena.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Buzz in, talk it out. It's totally fine. Here we go. Atticus hears the sound of a venomous viper's tail, so he fires up his Weber and cooks it for dinner.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Andrew.

SHUTTLEWORTH: "To Grill A Rattlesnake?"

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Seems like it would be hard to write an entire book based on that premise.

EISENBERG: To grill a rattlesnake?

COULTON: Yeah, this is a pretty short - doesn't take that long to grill a snake.

EISENBERG: Maybe it's a cookbook.

COULTON: (Laughter) It's a short - or a short story - short story. Scout wants to bring an amphibious, Australian, egg-laying mammal to the Halloween party but, first, has to decorate it with pleated fabric.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Caroline.

BARNARD: "To Frill A Platypus."

COULTON: Oh, yes. That is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Miss Maudie wants to show Scout how pretty and feminine the color pink can be, so she writes a document leaving Scout a tall, pink-wading bird on the event of her death.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Andrew.

SHUTTLEWORTH: "To Will A Flamingo."

SHUTTLEWORTH: That is correct, yeah.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Jem's broken arm prevents him from playing sports, so he finds a quill-bearing rodent to take his place and runs it through numerous football training exercises.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Caroline.

BARNARD: "To Drill A Porcupine."

COULTON: (Laughter) That is right.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Scout finds a long, flattened, multi-legged arthropod in the dirt of her garden and charges it rent.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Caroline.

BARNARD: "To Bill A Centipede?"

EISENBERG: Correct.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Boo Radley protects the Finch children by turning the temperature down low enough to scare away a bloodsucking insect that transmits diseases.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Caroline.

BARNARD: "To Chill A Mosquito."

COULTON: You've got it.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Puzzle guru Art Chung, how did our contestants do?

CHUNG: Congratulations, Caroline, you're one step closer to the final round.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: If you knew Atticus wasn't really so great the entire time, then come be a contestant on our show. And if you don't know what we're talking about, you can have fun in the audience.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Information at amatickets.org. Coming up, we'll find out which of our contestants will move on to the final round. And lots of people in the world are mysterious. Jonathan Coulton and I will meet one of them when we play Mystery Guest. I'm Ophira Eisenberg. And you're listening to ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.